Source: Red fish curry, tomato rasam, prawn curry: great Sri Lankan recipes

Red Fish Curry

Course Dinner
Cuisine Sri Lankan
Keyword Curry, Fish
Servings 4 people


  • 2 tbsp tamarind sauce
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 0.5 red onion peeled and finely sliced
  • 7 fresh curry leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled and halved
  • 4 cm ginger peeled and sliced
  • 2 tomatoes about 200g, roughly chopped
  • 0.5 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 450 g hake or firm white fish, cut in half lengthways then into 6cm cunks
  • 250 ml water
  • 100 ml coconut milk
  • 1 lime


  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 0.5 red onion peeled and finely sliced
  • 8 fresh curry leaves

Curry Powder

  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 fresh curry leaves
  • 3 dried red Kashmiri chillies
  • 0.25 tsp ground tumeric


  • In a dry pan over a low-medium heat, roast the coriander, cumin and fennel seeds and black peppercorns for 1-2 minutes, stirring regularly, until they begin to be really fragrant, then pour them into a bowl. Add the oil to the pan, and cook the curry leaves and dried chillies for 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat and when cool, blitz in a spice grinder or mini food processor until fine – you can blitz it in batches if you need to. Stir in the turmeric.
  • In a medium-sized saucepan or wok, heat the oil over a medium heat and fry the onion for 8-10 minutes until soft. Add the curry leaves and after 30 seconds, when they are bright green, stir in the garlic and ginger.
  • After about 30 seconds, when the garlic is beginning to turn golden, add the tomatoes and tamarind and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • When the tomatoes have cooked down a little, add the turmeric, curry powder and the salt. Slide the fish into the pan, and pour in the water. Allow to come to a gentle boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer, cover the pan with a lid and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the coconut milk and allow to come back to a simmer, then cook for a further 10 minutes or so, until the fish is cooked through. You can test it by gently flaking a piece with a fork: it should be opaque all the way through, and flake easily.
  • To make the temper, heat the oil in a small frying pan over a medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering and hot, fry the sliced onion for 5-6 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, until the onion is beginning to turn golden. Add the curry leaves and after about 30 seconds, when they are crisp, remove from the heat.
  • Serve the fish with the temper, and all its oil, spooned over the top. Squeeze over the lime.
Categories: Dinner


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